Trucks have long been the backbone of America’s logistics industry. From pickups to eighteen wheelers, they carry the merchandise, food and tools needed to keep the nation running at full pace. However, drivers have to face a multitude of challenges throughout the year, and it’s well known that winter weather causes truck accidents. It’s important to understand how these accidents occur.
Understanding How Winter Weather Causes Truck Accidents
Out on the road, traction basically refers to the ability of a vehicle’s tires to grip the surface beneath it. Unfortunately, during winter this becomes especially challenging for trucks. Most will experience a decrease in their tires’ ability to grip the surface, culminates in inferior turning, acceleration and most importantly, braking. To make matters worse, the gargantuan size of eighteen wheelers means that they have extended stopping distances. Trying to come to a hard stop on iced roads makes it harder for them to avoid frontal impacts. The (IIHS) Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that the typical stopping distance, for a truck that traverses an icy road, can be a minimum of twenty to forty percent longer.
Black ice refers to a thin and transparent layer of ice. Its transparency is resulted from blending in with the pavement, which makes it very difficult to see, both for pedestrians and drivers. It is created when temperatures rise above freezing, on days when the sun appears, causing the snow on the ground to melt slowly, resulting in a wet surface. When the temperature drops below freezing again, the wet surface freezes over, transforming into black ice.
For truck drivers to stay safe while moving over black ice, they must continue steering their truck straight, minimizing turns, as that increases the likelihood of losing vehicular control. Second, they must try to avoid braking, because on black ice, this will result in the truck sliding. Finally, they’ll need to ease their foot off the truck’s accelerator to lower speed. If there is sufficient road ahead, it is much safer to allow your truck to stop by itself.
Increased Holiday Travelers
Another reason why truck drivers get into more accidents during winter, is the increased number of drivers plying the roads and highways to visit friends and relatives for the holidays. The winter weather affects all road users, and not all have the kind of adverse weather driving experience that most truck drivers have. This means they do not know how to react when they lose control of the vehicle. When the winter weather affects other road users, accidents are bound to occur. Some fender benders are unavoidable, but the risk of serious accidents is much higher in winter.
Limited Visibility Due to Blizzards
A blizzard is one of the most hazardous weather conditions a truck driver can encounter. These are powerful snowstorms blanket the road with snow and produce strong winds which can move at speeds as high as 35 miles per hour for an extended period. When moving through blizzards, truckers must slow down, even if it means missing a deadline, because being late is better than risking a serious accident.
Be sure to bring along tools like a battery powered radio, a first aid kit, tire repair tools, jumper cables, flares, maps, water, and storable food. Stop to remove ice from mirrors and windows, and do not attempt to pass other drivers. Be sure to always operate the truck on a full tank.